India completed a 4-1 victory over Morocco to secure a place in the 2024 Davis Cup World Group I playoffs, at the Vijayant Khand Mini Stadium here on Sunday.
Rohan Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri combined in the afternoon to beat Elliot Benchetrit and Younes Lalami Laaroussi 6-2, 6-1 to give India a 2-1 lead. Sumit Nagal, the India No.1, then earned a straightforward 6-3, 6-3 win over Yassine Dlimi to seal the tie.
The dead fifth rubber was used as an opportunity to blood Digvijay Pratap Singh in, and the 23-year-old won his debut match against Walid Ahouda 6-1, 5-7, [10-6].
While the win is sure to bring captain Rohit Rajpal a sense of relief, for a loss would have widened the gulf that already exists between India and the tennis elites, the result took an ever-so-slight backseat.
It was 43-year-old Bopanna’s 50th and last Davis Cup match, and there were heartwarming post-match scenes involving his fellow players, friends and family. There was a victory lap; Rajpal and Digvijay Pratap carried him on his shoulders and Bopanna even symbolically left his shirt on court to signal his final goodbye.
That there was a joyous backdrop to the send-off came courtesy Bhambri and Bopanna’s tennis.
The duo wasn’t really tested. Benchetrit’s timing was off all afternoon while Laaroussi didn’t hold serve even once.
Stepping it up
Bopanna and Bhambri seldom hit the high notes together. Big-serving Bopanna, in fact, didn’t have a single ace to his name. But they stepped it up when it mattered by complementing each other’s play.
“Yuki has been playing very well of late and when he makes those returns, I can put my big frame forward,” Bopanna said after the match.
“When that happened, they (Moroccans) were trying to hit bigger and missed. That made the difference.”
The result: India 4 bt Morocco 1 (On Sunday: Rohan Bopanna & Yuki Bhambri bt Elliot Benchetrit & Younes Lalami Laaroussi 6-2, 6-1; Sumit Nagal bt Yassine Dlimi 6-3, 6-3; Digvijay Pratap Singh bt Walid Ahouda 6-1, 5-7, (10-6).
On Saturday: Sasikumar Mukund lost to Dlimi Yassine 7-6(4), 5-7, 1-4 (retd); Sumit Nagal bt Adam Moundir 6-3, 6-3.